LINGUIST List 4.776

Thu 30 Sep 1993

Misc: Null object, OK, Nouns

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Natalie Maynor, "come with"
  2. , Query: Sentence-final "have"
  3. "david joseph kathman", Re: 4.705 OK
  4. "Kimberly A. Weiss", RE: 4.768 Uh-huh, Mass Nouns, Before
  5. David Denison, Mass nouns

Message 1: "come with"

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1993 05:32:04 "come with"
From: Natalie Maynor <maynorRa.MsState.Edu>
Subject: "come with"

> In another matter related to southern dialects, I am wondering if anyone
> (and particularly those who live in the south), thinks that the following
> sentences sound bad:
> "Do you want to come with?"
> "Can I go with?"

I'm not sure that I would use the adjective "bad," but it definitely
sounds strange to my Southern ears. It is not in my dialect.

> constructions in the Chicago area they are fine. In Kentucky the sentence
> only sounds good if the preposition has an object, such as:
> "Do you want to come with me?"
> Any feedback on this?

I usually assume when I hear the "come with" structure (without object)
that the speaker is from an area heavily influenced by German.
 --Natalie (
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Message 2: Query: Sentence-final "have"

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 11:51:48 ESQuery: Sentence-final "have"
From: <>
Subject: Query: Sentence-final "have"

Jaqueline Lilly's recent posting regarding sentence-final "with"
reminded me of another phenomenon I have noticed recently. It
seems to be restricted to a very particular context (i.e.
confirmation of a negative response to a question), but it still
seems frightfully odd to my ear.

 S1: Do you have a brother named George?
 S2: No, I don't.
 S1: You don't have? <--------

Has anyone else noticed this construction? Has anyone seen it in
some other context besides negative confirmation? Any reason why
the context would be so restricted (if, in fact, it is)?

This has been bugging me in the recesses of my mind for some
time, so your input would be greatly appreciated.

Wayne Isaac Worley
University of Kentucky
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Message 3: Re: 4.705 OK

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 93 15:00:30 CDRe: 4.705 OK
From: "david joseph kathman" <>
Subject: Re: 4.705 OK

A (hopefully short) reply to Paul Werth's posting on the alleged African
origin of OK:

I am aware of the research by David Dalby that you refer to; it was also
written up in a New York Times article around 1970 or so. It should be
noted, though, that there was an article in American Speech in 1981 called
"The African Origin of OK", I believe by somebody named Donahue (I don't
have the exact cite handy), which examined Dalby's theory for the origin
of OK and found it not entirely persuasive. Dalby's strongest argument,
not mentioned by Werth, is a citation from around the 1830's or so of a
representation in a novel of Gullah speech, in which someone apparently
uses "oh ki" as an interjection; Dalby argues that this is printed evidence
of "OK" before 1839. But Dalby leaves out the comma from the original, in
which the phrase is written as "oh, ki", and in any case the context makes
it clear that this is an exclamation of surprise, a variation of the commoner
form "ki", rather than something with the meaning of "OK". Now, this doesn't
mean that it's *impossible* that "OK" developed from either this or the
Wolof source, but it seems to me that there is still not any hard evidence
for such an origin. If you read the Read articles, he presents a very
persuasive case that the "oll korrect" origin makes perfect sense in the
context of the times, and doesn't seem to leave much room for the possibility
that it was borrowed from a phrase already current in speech. Yes, I'm
aware that new expressions take some time to make it into the written record,
but I still would expect to see *some* citation before March 23, 1839 if
the African origin is correct. Read the American Speech articles (both Read's
and Donahue's, but especially Read's); anyone who accepts the African origin
after that is perfectly free to do so, but I'm still more inclined to think
of it as another folk etymology.

Dave Kathman
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Message 4: RE: 4.768 Uh-huh, Mass Nouns, Before

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 93 09:50:18 ESRE: 4.768 Uh-huh, Mass Nouns, Before
From: "Kimberly A. Weiss" <>
Subject: RE: 4.768 Uh-huh, Mass Nouns, Before

In response to Deborah Berkley's recent posting, one of my colleagues
pointed out to me last semester that it appeared that I was using the word
'homework' as a count noun when I said the word 'homeworks' to her. She
thought it was a transfer from French (the subject I teach) where the
normal word for homework is plural: "les devoirs". However, in analyzing
my use of homework and homeworks, I really don't think the usage is that
strange. The assignments I take up are a mass noun; I would never say "I'm
correcting my students' homeworks" or "You forgot to turn in your homeworks
last week". The plural form only refers to the homework grades
themselves: "I drop five homeworks at the end of the semester" or "You're
missing two homeworks", where the plural form is a sort of abreviation for
'homework grades'. Even then, I usually only use the plural form when
giving written grade/progress reports, or when calculating the final grade,
so it tends to be a written form rather than an oral form.

Kimberly Weiss
Indiana University
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Message 5: Mass nouns

Date: 29 Sep 93 10:39:41 BST
From: David Denison <>
Subject: Mass nouns

 In response to Deborah Milam Berkley, I have noticed several
tendencies to make count nouns out of mass nouns in recent English.
(I've already got a couple of pages on this in my draft chapter on
`Syntax 1776-present' for the Cambridge History of the English
 One of them seems to distinguish General AmE from BrE and concerns
nouns like _accommodation_ = concrete instance of accommodation. A
tourist brochure in Canada or US might well say
 Various accommodations are available.
This is (as far as I know) completely impossible in BrE, which still
allows only
 Various accommodation is available.
Another (invented) pair is
 You'll find great values all around the store. (GAE)
 You'll find great value all around the shop/store. (BrE)
An older example is the noun _acquaintance_, referring to person
known, which is now a count noun but was perhaps in early 19c a mass
noun. Suzanne Romaine told me that the new Englishes tend to allow
plurals like _stationeries_, _furnitures_. And I suspect that the
luxury of consumer choice in the west now makes it easier to for us
to make count nouns out of e.g. _coffee_, _milk_, _bread_, etc, with
the sense `particular variety of X'.
 I welcome the _homeworks_ example and would be very interested in
more info, whether anecdotal or systematic, on either current/recent
change or British/American differences (which must, of course, reflect
change of some sort).
 David Denison_____________________________________
(Dr) David Denison
Dept of English Language & Literature
Univ. of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL,
tel. +44 61-275 3154
fax. +44 61-275 3256
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